WHILE the Archbishop of York, the toothy Dr John Sentamu, was running his mouth off yet again about the horrors of same-sex marriage – “I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is” – a group of Christians turned out at a gay pride event in Chicago to apologise for the way the church has treated homosexuals.
Nathan, member of the Marin Foundation who is pictured being hugged by a man in his underwear, joined members of the foundation, wearing T-shirts with “I’m Sorry” written on it. There were also signs that said, “I’m sorry that Christians judge you,” “I’m sorry the way churches have treated you,” “I used to be a Bible-banging homophobe, sorry.”
Said Nathan in a blog post entitled I hugged a man in his underwear. And I am proud:
We wanted to be an alternative Christian voice from the protestors that were there speaking hate into megaphones.
What I loved most about the day is when people ‘got it’. I loved watching people’s faces as they saw our shirts, read the signs, and looked back at us. Responses were incredible. Some people blew us kisses, some hugged us, some screamed thank you. A couple ladies walked up and said we were the best thing they had seen all day. I wish I had counted how many people hugged me. One guy in particular softly said, ‘Well, I forgive you’.
What touched Nathan most – literally – was getting a hug from a man dressed solely in white underwear who “had a pack of abs like no one else.”
That man turned out to be Tristan, who runs his own computer consulting company called Tech Direct 2 U in Joliet, Illinois. Nathan made contact with Tristan, who told him that, as a youngster:
I was enthralled with the Bible and ‘the word of God. I then read the Bible cover to cover and saw so much hate, arrogance, and oppression, so I started to ask questions. The blatant disregard for human life and especially for women was just appalling to me. The more answers I received from my [Catholic] priest and other people of religion just became too much for me.
So then, around age 16, I ‘lost my faith.’ I searched for a couple of years and looked into other beliefs just to come to the same conclusion. I practiced Zen Buddhism for a few years and started reading more into the universe and science. I then realized that I was just an atheist and have been an atheist for over ten years now. I feel that people have the right to their own beliefs and their own lives, and should do whatever is in their power to be happy in this life.